Startup Advices

Worst Naming Practices: What to Avoid When Creating a Name for your Startup

Worst Naming Practices: What to Avoid When Creating a Name for your Startup

Your startup name establishes the tone for all of your branding exploits in the future. A name needs to create a connection between your brand and your audience or customers, and it must accurate represent what your brand is and the values you have.

A great name can make your brand a success while a poor name can tank a business. There are numerous naming mistakes that will slow the momentum of your brand and hinder growth. Find out more about what these naming mistakes are and why you need to avoid them when you start the process of naming your business.

Tricky Names

The most important rules when you name are that your brand name should be simple to pronounce, write, and remember.

If your target audience has a tough time saying your brand name, they will likely stop saying it at all. One way to confuse your customers is through intentional misspellings that are done to be creative. It’s very common for convoluted intentional misspellings in brand names to cause confusion in customers without creating any interest.

If you want to check if your brand name idea is a winner, try applying the “crowded bar theory”. If you’re in a crowded bar talking to a friend, would they be able to understand your business name if you shared it with them? For example, a coffee shop named Sam and Ella’s might accidentally sound like salmonella in a loud and crowded bar. No entrepreneur wants their name to be confused with something as unappealing as salmonella. Double check that your brand name only has to be heard once to be immediately understood.

Names that are easy to say and spell are more likely to stick in people’s heads. As customers share your business name, they become agents of your brand. Selecting a simple, clean name simplifies their sharing process.

Startup Names that are Lackluster

While a good name should inform potential customers about what your startup offers, names that are too descriptive are boring.

Certified Printed Notepaper Merchandises LLC is an extremely descriptive name. From just the name the audience immediately gets a sense of what this business sells and what type of company they are. However, the name is tremendously uninteresting. It is far too descriptive and gives the business an ordinary and nonspecific feel. Startup names like this one are outdated and will not be able to compete with the more interesting names in the market because boring names will not generate any questions with your audience.

A great startup name should create some interest and intrigue without being too ambiguous. When brainstorming names try to be creative. A good name needs to draw in your target market so that they want to find out more about your business.

Popular Names

Studying brand names over the years will reveal certain naming trends. For example, from around 2003 to 2007 it was popular to give your business a name that lacked vowels like Flickr, or  Scribd, or Cuddlr

One popular naming trend as of late is to name artificially intelligent software a human name. This is done in order to humanize the technology and make it appear friendlier and will make consumers more at ease with using artificially intelligent software. Examples of this are Bank of America’s Erica and Amazon’s Alexa.

Occasionally, it can be a wise idea to jump on the bandwagon and use trends to help you brainstorm name ideas, but remember that there are consequences. Hip and trendy names are limited to their era, and if you accidentally adopt a popular name trend as it’s ending, your startup could risk falling behind and feeling immediately dated all because of the name.  

Names that are too Long

Finally, lengthy and cumbersome names create several challenges for entrepreneurs. Long names can be difficult to remember, spell and pronounce and can be an automatic turn-off for your target audience. If your name is too long then you risk having it be confusing and forgettable for your audience. If you find your name ideas are too long, try to cut down the names by taking out superfluous descriptors, articles, and words.

In addition to being difficult to remember long names also come with lengthy URLs. Think ahead before you commit to a name. Aside from URLs, double check that your name will work well with any potential social media handles you may want in the future. For example, Instagram handles have a character limit so you should check that your name will work with any social media name limitations.


Overall, even though coming up with a strong name your business can feel intimidating, the effort, time and resources you devote to the process will result in a solid, attractive name that draw customers in. If you commit to following these simple guidelines of what type of names to avoid you will be able to open up your creative flow and find the perfect name in no time!

About the author

Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these awesome business names

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